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The Southeast is a feather in the country’s ever-growing tourism cap

Discover this wild region of the Southeast of Madagascar. There are many national parks but also a huge coastline where you’ll find dream beaches and the Canal des Pangalanes, which crosses the whole eastern and southeast part of the island. Southeastern Madagascar is a cinematic sweep of diverse and wild terrain unlike any other place on earth. A trip to Southeastern Madagascar is “classic” Madagascar travel, abounding in scenery, culture, and wildlife worthy of any National Geographic spread. It’s no wonder, then, that this is a feather in the country’s ever-growing tourism cap.

The Southeast region of Madagascar is home to charming and unspoilt countryside, rice paddies, quaint villages and wild beaches. Built on a small Peninsula, Fort Dauphin is one of the most attractively situated of Madagascar’s major towns, with beaches on three sides and a mountainous backdrop.

A two and a half hour drive from Fort Dauphin, takes you to Berenty Private Reserve, the country’s most well known reserve because of the ease in which visitors can see its population of ring tailed lemurs and the ‘dancing’ Verreaux sifakas. It’s habitat comprises the banks of the Mandrare River, a spiny forest and the dry Tamarind gallery woodland. These woods are one of the very few remaining strands of Spiny Forests, eluding certain deforestation because of their unique position above the family burial grounds of the Antandroy. The Ifotaka Community Forest is an admirable illustration of a government initiative that encourages local communities to manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner.

The Antandroy Tribe, it is one of Madagascar’s fiercest and most traditional tribes, exist in quiet domesticity within the sacred forests of Ifotaka. The engaging Antandroy people harvest forest products from some areas, whilst elsewhere the forest is left intact, preserving it for ecotourism and wildlife viewing.

Another area of interest in this region is Manafiafy, a small fishing village situated about two and a half hours drive from Fort Dauphin on the southeast coast. Relatively unaffected by the Portugese, French and British, who have been and gone, this village is rich in marine life and humpback whales can be seen in the bay from mid June to November. The neighbouring forest is home to dwarf, mouse, sportive and brown lemurs and reptiles such as chameleons, snakes, and gecko’s.

Fort Dauphin, or Tolagnaro, are the point at which the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans collide to create the kind of waves surfers travel the world over to catch and the likes of which sailors avoid at all costs, as perceivable by the multiple half-sunk shipwrecks dotting the horizon.

Best time to visit

jan feb mar apr may june july aug sept oct nov dec

Key attractions

Fort Dauphin, the town at the end of the world

The town of Fort Dauphin is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Madagascar. Situated in the deep south-east of the island, Fort-Dauphin is built on a small peninsula, it is bordered on three sides by beaches and breakers. The town is dominated by splendid mountain chain, the chain of Anosy and the Peak St. Louis, on the north side of the town, which offers a unique and unspoiled view of the area. On the north, east, and south the bright azure colours of the Indian Ocean take over the magnificent view. With its setting amongst crescent shaped beaches under high forest-clad mountains, Fort Dauphin offers and exceptional change of scenery of all popular destinations in Madagascar.

Fort Dauphin is a breezy port town, with a pleasant subtropical climate. It was founded in 1643 by the French East India Company who built a fort there, named in honour of the crown prince of France, the future Louis XIV. Malagasy name “Tolagnaro” is also used on maps and AirMad schedules. After a conflict with the Antanosy people in 1674, some years later, the French returned in the form of slave traders who used Fort Dauphin as a port. “Tolagnaro” comes from the taolana maro which means thousands of skeletons or bones. At the end of the 19th century it was incorporated into the united French colony of Madagascar. Fort Dauphin also is known as Faradofay (malagasization of the french Fort Dauphin) and is the capital of the Anosy region.

Fort Dauphin has an interesting history, it was occupied by Europeans in the 17th century and served as a trading post. You will discover many historical sites dating from the colonial era, including Sainte Luce, a fishing village with its long beaches bordered by casuarinas and palm trees, on a forest background.  But you can also visit the Fort-Flacourt, the remains of an ancient bastion, the museum of Anosy (retracing the colonial history) and another that dates from 1504 thus making it the oldest building in the country - the Fort of the Portugueses - which was erected by shipwrecked Portuguese sailors.

Today the town offers a fairly wide range of hotels and the inhabitants are accustomed to tourism. Fort Dauphin has an undeniable charm and it is, therefore, no wonder that it has developed into the centre of a prosperous tourist industry. There are a lot of places to discover and visit.

The town beaches are the gorgeously sheltered Libanona Plage on the west side of the peninsula, which gets busy at weekends, and the surfers’ Plage Monseigneur on the east side, which is much more exposed. Plage Ankoba, west of Libanona, also has good surf but can be dangerous. Libanona Beach is known as the most beautiful and cleanest beach in Tolagnaro. In the 19th century, the place was still a mere sand dune at the time of Lutheran missionaries settled there. Those latter have built cottages that served as stage lodging for the children visitors at the mission school. A scoop! The first Malagasy President Philibert Tsiranana even used to stay in a villa just above the beach. One eye-catching feature of the bay is the shipwrecks. A romantic imagination associates these with pirates or wreckers of a bygone era. In fact, they are all unfortunate insurance scams. There are several other beaches around the peninsula.

Fort Dauphin is the town of surfing in Madagascar through Libanona Beach. Libanona Beach – surfers’ paradise. The surfing international day is celebrated there every June 20th as in all the beaches around the world. Surfing is a popular sport and there are clubs, associations and surfing equipment rentals on site. The ideal time to surf is during the “cold season”, during the school holidays from mid-June to about mid-September. Onshore winds come from the north, and the ideal swell direction is from the south-west. Even if there are waves, the beach is never crowded, but be beware of injuries and rocks.

The seasonal passage of humpback whales before going to Sainte Marie and the waltz of dolphins off the coast of Dauphiné become another attractive tourist attraction.

Tolagnaro is the most vivid and vibrant town in Madagascar's coast and has a kaleidoscope of ethnic foods, flavors, fashion. The local cuisine uses many local ingredients, prepared in a simple manner without too much of spices which are very accessible place. The main course is rice, like any good self-respecting Madagascar, with meat, poultry or fish.

Here is disorder and beauty, luxury and want, uproar and quietness, and everyday delight... - it is the perfect base place for a few days around. You can of course, and we recommend it, practice surfing or whale watching with us, enjoy of beaches and kaleidoscope of the local cuisine, but also, the town is one of the great destinations: the number of tourist sites and its variety make the Anosy Region a very popular destination for tourists:

ENJOY THESE... experiences:

*Seaside tourism. With this rare morphology where a magnificent chain of mountains is alongside the beach for miles, offering the opportunity to go from a green lush nature of the tropical type to beaches of great beauty, especially in Sainte Luce Reserve. Walking to the beach of Cape Andavaka and Ankapaky Cave, you can meet lemurs and other animals;

*Lokaro creeks are located 40 km northeast of the town. One can see the multitude of fascinating small rocky islets. It is an ideal site for snorkeling, swimming, canoe riding and of course natural tourism. This river expedition is magnificent and is certainly one of the activities to be done first when you come to Fort Dauphin;

*Ecotourism. With the two worlds constituted by the wetland with its primary rainforests, extending on the east coast from Fort Dauphin, and the sub-arid zone with a vast bush and the opportunity to visit one of the sacred forests of Androy – Ifotaka or Ankodida - with its unique botanical diversity. In both lands and in the transition zone where the Andohahela National Park is located, fauna and flora abound in endemic species, making these places a paradise for naturalists, botanists and all those who love nature in all its virginal purity. The rich biodiversity of Anosy with 18 conservation areas gives it a special status in this area of ecotourism;

*Visit Andohahela National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 5 summits exceeding the 1500m altitude. The park gather species representatives of the four horizons of Madagascar, which is a real transition from the eastern to the arid south. It is one of the few places on the island where you can see the lemur with red collar and the microceb (the smallest nocturnal lemur). The visit of the park takes place on three sites - Tsimehaly, Malio, Ihazofotsy;

Fort Dauphin is full of pleasant natural sites to visit, including the Vinanibe Lake and Anony, where the mountains covered with forests grow steeply over brackish lakes, as well as numerous reserves where you’ll discover a rich fauna and flora. Lake Anony is a brackish lagoon backed by rolling dunes on the rugged south coast. For a full-day excursion from Fort Dauphin, walk along the lake shore to a beautiful picnic spot, scale the 22-meter-high sand dunes for incredible views and go for a swim in the lake. Vinanibe Lake ideal place for lovers of peace and nature, for walks or family swimming outings, it is also well known by surfers since it is the best surf spot in Fort Dauphin. The lake is perfect for sailing and the whole area of hills and dunes is great for strolling;

*Visit The Mandena Conservation Zone. The six species of lemur in Mandena area are still shy, no doubt they will become habituated in time, but you will see plenty of birds and reptiles meanwhile;

*Visit The Nahampaona Reserve is an ideal place to rest. This forest reserve deserves much greater recognition. Its exotic tropical setting, with mountains for a backdrop, is prettier than Berenty. You can take a boat trip on the river bordering the reserve, discover a forest of bamboos and explore many other enchanting spots. In the forest there are waterfalls and natural swimming pools that offer quiet and secluded picnic sites;

*Berenty’s Reserve, with its carnivorous plants and thorny forest will give you the opportunity to observe many lemurs. They would certainly want to get closer to you. Whilst Berenty is rightly world-famous but is the overpriced, adventure visitors should give equal consideration to Tsitongambarika or the Community Project of Ifotaka;

*Visit Saïadi’s botanical garden. The botanical garden of Saiadi is an unavoidable place to visit during your trip to Fort Dauphin. You’ll be welcomed by free lemurs: makis, sifakas and fulvus, but also many other species such as crocodiles, birds, butterflies. You’ll be able to walk through rich vegetation: palm trees, date palms, elephant ears, mango trees, orchids, rosewood, ferns or bamboos. There is a multitude of endemic natural species to be discovered with family!

*Mountain tourism. With Fort Dauphin, nestled in a promontory at the foot of the St. Louis peak, and the mountains of Andohahela and Grand Lavasoa offer panoramic views rarely equaled. There are excellent hiking opportunities in the Domaine de la Cascade and stunning panoramic views of the adjacent countryside.

Watch more photos about Fort Dauphin here.

Andohahela National Park. A crossroads between East and South

Andohahela National Park is in extreme southeastern Madagascar, and is composed of three non-contiguous parcels situated along the flanks of the Anosyennes Mountains. Andohahela spreads over 760 km² and contains the last dense and humid forests of the southern part of Madagascar. The Park is situated in the mountainous zone of the famous chains of Anosy, which is an obstacle for the trade winds and create a magic place of climatic contrasts making it possible to discover at the same time three different worlds: In the East, a wet tropical forest, in the West a semi-arid dry forest comprising thorny bush, and between the two, an intermediate zone being used as transition.

The best time to visit this area is between April and October. Climate can be quite different from one parcel to another. In the eastern side and in the Anosy range it is humid and hot, by contrast the western part is much dryer and it only rains a little bit from December to March. Temperatures are warm (20 to 27°) during all the year.

The rainforest section of the park offers the best lemur-viewing possibilities. The park has excellent trails and camping facilities. Malio, the rain forest portion (Parcel 1), is a good place to see the red-collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris) and the southern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis) during daytime hours, especially along the road to Col de Manangotry. It is also the only place to see the Andohahela sportive lemur (Lepilemur fleuretae), and a number of other species have been reported as well, including an unknown mouse lemur (Microcebus), Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (Propithecus edwardsi), aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), and possible even some form of fork-marked lemur (Phaner), but these need to be confirmed. This area is a few hours drive by car from Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) and arrangements can be made through NDAO-i-Travel.

Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) can also be seen in the day in Ihazofotsy, the spiny forest portion of Andohahela (Parcel 2). Night hikes in this part of the park offer visitors the opportunity to view gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), gray-brown mouse lemur (Microcebus griseorufus), fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius), and white-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus). Ihazofotsy can be reached by four-wheel drive vehicle either from Berenty Private Reserve or Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) in about three or four hours. The trip is a rewarding experience that takes the visitor through an attractive piece of southern spiny forest, lightly inhabited by scattered villages of the Antandroy (the traditional people of this region), but the road is very rough.

There is also an excellent trail through the transitional forest of Parcel 3 at Tsimelahy, located 8 km to the north of the main road to Amboasary (the route taken to go to Berenty). Although there are surprisingly few lemurs along this trail, it is a superb piece of transitional forest that includes baobabs (Adansonia spp.), Pachypodium spp., Alluaudia spp., and the triangle palm (Dypsis decaryi), a very distinctive species that is grown horticulturally in many parts of the world but is actually endemic to this very small transition zone. Botanically, this is one of the most interesting walks in the entire southern region of Madagascar, and it can be visited in two or three hours. The road is rough, but always passable with a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Watch more photos about Andohahela National Park here.

Lokaro bay – a wild and beautiful postcard

For those who love the 3 S: Sun, Sea, and... Sand, mixed with adventure, the Baie de Lokaro is a heaven on earth in the South-East of Madagascar.

Lokaro bay and the islet attached is as close to paradise as you'll get. This bay is in the Lonely Planet as one of the top beaches in the world and that is true. Just bear in mind it is isolated and well-preserved area of inland waterways, green hills and barrier beaches. It is one of the world’s last frontiers as they only exist in remote corners of the globe. A magnificent place: the white sandy beach under our feet, the forest behind us, the turquoise sea in front with small islands and brown rocks. It is a wild and beautiful postcard.

Lokaro, some 25km northeast of Fort Dauphin, behind the four-peaked peninsula you can see on the horizon, is a perfect 1,5 km triple crescent of golden sands backed by dense coastal forest and sheltered from the ocean by rocky outcrops. The craggy islet of Nosy Lokaro is joined to the far end of the beach at low tide. The Baie de Lokaro is the top out-of-town getaway for wealthier locals and expats.

It is perfect when there is no wind blowing. The horseshoe island can be reached by walking over the sand bar but beware of the tides. Additionally to this, Lokaro boasts the only substantial coral habitat in the southeast of Madagascar and offers superb snorkeling opportunities. Once on the beach at Lokaro, one can visit a small lodge called Pirate camp, where overnight facilities are available.

The most popular activities at Lokaro is to wade through the river mouth to a beautiful little island with a white beach and calm water for snorkeling. At your request, it is possible overnight a bivouac on the beach. If you prefer to have your fresh crayfish, oysters, prawns or fish brought to you where you made your beach fire, we ask the local cook and you would get what you need.

Watch more photos about Baie de Lokaro here.

Manombo Special Reserve, still unknown but attractive

The unusual tranquility and beautiful scenery with many hiking opportunities in the Manombo Special Reserve where numerous endemic lemurs live (the white-collared brown lemur and the black-and-white ruffed lemur), invite you to stay longer to explore the forest. You will also see a multitude of birds, reptiles, and batrachians which live together in a rich endemic vegetation. This site is a little corner of paradise almost intact. In order to add a little spice to your relaxation in nature and to meet crocodiles of the Reserve aboard a canoe, you need sail down the very interesting rivers Takoandra and Manatsimba to the beautiful Rianambo waterfall. You will walk to the natural swimming-pool where you will have a chance to take a bath on the lonely beach of Takoandra and where you will be able to make a small camp for your day's rest.

Manombo Special Reserve is located 130 km south of Manakara and just 30km south of Farafangana, on the eastern part of Madagascar and was created in 1962. It covers a total area of 53 km² of lowland rainforest and marshlands partially turned into rice paddies, and a 5km long beach with littoral forest and huge dunes. The Reserve is divided into two differentiated areas by the National road R12 connecting Manakara, Farafangana and Vangaindrano. Manombo Special Reserve protects typical but as usual threatened ecosystems of the Southeast of Madagascar, including some local endemic plants and frogs. It also has the biggest number of snail species of the whole island. 90 % of the flora and fauna found in Manombo is endemic to Madagascar!

What of wildlife you will see: Although infrequently visited, it is the easiest place to spot the Critically Endangered southern black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata editorum). The forests of Manombo offer a habitat to 9 different lemur species, among them the Endangered white-collared brown lemur (Eulemur cinereiceps), which is extremely hard to see. Aside from the two species already mentioned, which are among the real prizes of a lemur-watching expedition to Madagascar, one can also see several others at Manombo. These include an undescribed species of mouse lemur (Microcebus) and two newly-described species that are only found in this region; the Manombo sportive lemur (Lepilemur jamesorum) and the Manombo woolly lemur (Avahi ramanantsoavanai). Greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major) and southern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis) are also present, and you can see signs of aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) as well.

Other - mammals found here are the very rare web-footed or aquatic tenrec (the only semi-aquatic mammal of Madagascar), eastern falanouc, ring-tailed mongoose, red forest rat or the fossa.

58 bird species have been observed within Manombo, such as the Madagascar pond-heron or the cuckoo roller.

This lowland humid forest, typical of the eastern region, shelters also 10 reptile species, such as Madagascar crocodiles, some endemic green-blue geckos and; 12 amphibians, among them several rare frogs such as Bernhard's mantella (an extremely rare poisonous frog which only occurs here) and some freshwater endemic fishes discovered in 1994.

Apart from this, there are 52 different land snail species in the reserve, many of them local endemic.

In October humpback whales pass near by the coast and hundreds of sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach at night.

The flora of Manombo Special Reserve is specially varied and, the same as the fauna, with a high rate of endemism. Even some entire families growing here are endemic, such as the Sarcolaenaceaes, the Asteropeiaceaes, the Physenaceaes, and the Sphaerosepalaceaes. Some significant species are the Fatsinakoho (Humbertia madagascariensis), a huge tree that only grows in this area and more than 50 different palm trees. From June to August, visitors can enjoy the spectacle of the orchids blooming.

The main ethnical groups living next to Manombo Reserve are the Betsileo, the Vakinankaratra, the Antemoro, the Antesaka, the Antefasy and the Zafisoro. They live from fishing, cattle, agriculture and handcraft (special traditional baskets made of palm leaves). As they are dependant of the natural resources to survive, these human activities together with illegal tree falling, bush fires and poaching are the main threat to the vulnerable forest of Manombo.

The climate is humid with frequent showers and warm temperatures all the year around. Visitors should avoid coming to Manombo during the cyclone season from December to February, since this coast is regularly hit by them.

There are currently no circuits available for self-study of the Reserve, but you can contact NDAO-i-Travel. Our guides will show you the different ecosystems, flora and fauna of the Reserve. We can camp inside the reserve with very basic facilities (with our camping equipment), or stay at Farafangana, where there are two simple but clean hotels, and restaurants.

There are then several access routes to the forest, either on foot or on dirt tracks requiring a four-wheel-drive vehicle. A visit requires permission from Madagascar National Parks, and arrangements can be made through NDAO-i-Travel.

Use of a guide is essential, as it is not easy to find the best sites for these animals, because the Manombo Special Reserve covers some 5000 ha, of which perhaps 3000 ha is still forest, while the adjoining Classified Forest covers some 10000 ha, of which about 7000 ha is forest. It is hoped that the latter will soon be declared as a reserve as well.

One more interesting place to visit - The Agnalahaza Forest (formerly the Mahabo Forest Reserve) is close to Manombo, and is located 40 km along the main highway south of Farafangana, then 5–7 km in on a dirt track. It covers 1500 ha and is covered in littoral forest, an increasingly rare formation in Madagascar, including some 600 ha of wooded swamp and stands of traveler’s palm (Ravenala madagasariensis). The Missouri Botanical Garden carries out research there, and has already discovered 10 new plant species. Several groups of the white-collared brown lemur (Eulemur cinereiceps) occur in this forest, but Lepilemur, Varecia and Daubentonia appear to be absent.

Watch more photos about Manombo Special Reserve here.

New Protected Area Tsitongambarika

The New Protected Area of Tsitongambarika contains major parts of the last remaining low-altitude humid forests in southern Madagascar, being mainly distributed below 800 m altitude. Tsitongambarika rises out of the coastal plain of south-east Madagascar, extending north from Tolagnaro town (Fort Dauphin) for about 100 km. It is located south of the tropic of Capricorn at 23°26’S and includes some of the southernmost “tropical rainforest” in the world.

These forests are unique even within Madagascar, with flora and fauna quite distinct from lowland forests elsewhere: many species of plant and animal at Tsitongambarika are endemic not just to Madagascar, but to south-east Madagascar, some being known only from this site. Recent discoveries have included more than a dozen plant and animal species new to science, including frogs, lizards and snakes, and numerous other threatened species.

The Tsitongambarika forests comprise three forest management units in Anosy Region: Ivohibe Forest, near Antsotso Avaratra village, east of Fort Dauphin, Antsiriky Forest, in Mahatalaky Commune and Ivorona Forest, in Ifarantsa Commune in the west.

These forests lie along the Vohimena mountains, which consist of a series of ridges aligned from south-west to north-east. These mountains run parallel to the Anosyenne mountains, where Andohahela National Park is situated. The Vohimena mountains reach a maximum altitude of 1358 m, while the Anosyenne mountains are significantly higher, reaching a maximum altitude of 1956 m. On the western boundary the Manampanihy river flows northwards. Ivorona Forest constitutes the only extant forest corridor linking Tsitongambarika Forest in the east with Andohahela National Park in the west.

Besides, Manatantely Private Reserve is a part of the Tsitongambarika massif. This site is an area of eastern humid evergreen forest located on very uneven rocky relief formed by very abrupt valleys. The forest is characterized by an increasingly humid microclimate with increasing elevation. Manatantely Private Reserve is a tourist site, easily accessible from Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin).

Much of the wildlife is endemic to Madagascar and many of the amphibians and reptiles are likely to be new to science. Twenty species of reptiles and amphibians, including 12 found in Tsitongambarika, are not found anywhere in Madagascar except the Anosy region. These species occupy various habitats, including lakes, agricultural land and fallow land, but the majority depends on humid evergreen forest.

Botanical collecting in the 2000s found at least seventy new species. The reserve supports areas of intact low- and mid-altitude, dense, humid evergreen forest, and sclerophyllous montane forest. At low altitudes the canopy is at 15m to 25m and dominated by Dracaena, Ilex, Oncostemum, Sorindeia, Syzygium and Tambourissa. At mid-altitudes the canopy is 12m to 20m high with trees of Macaranga, as well as species of Guttiferae, Monimiaceae, Moraceae and Myrtaceae. Macaranga is a tree endemic to Madagascar that grows only in the Southeast of Madagascar. This tree has yellow flowers which are very fragrant. Local apicultures place the hives at the feet of Macaranga trees to make a honey to have a unique taste and strong aroma.

The forest on Mount Ivohibe (677m) (more than one on the island with the same name) is an isolated peak with relatively undisturbed forest. An expedition, organized by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2010 recorded twenty species of palms making it one of the richest sites for palms, in the southern part of the island. Sixteen species are either rare or threatened species according to IUCN red list data. Expedition members considered the forest on Ivohibe to be a 'site of major palm significance'.

The mammal surveys recorded seven bat species, including four species of conservation concern: Madagascar Flying-fox, Madagascar Fruit Bat, Peter’s Sheath-tailed Bat and Madagascar Rousette. The population of Flying-fox (Pteropus rufus) is particularly significant, numbering around 2000 individuals divided among four roosts.

Seven species of lemur were identified, comprising two diurnal species - Collared Brown Lemur (Eulemur collaris) and Grey Gentle Lemur (Hapalemur griseus) and five nocturnal species - Brown Mouse-lemur (Microcebus rufus), Greater Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus major), Southern Woolly Lemur (Avahi meridionalis), Greater Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur mustelinus) and Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis). Two of these species Collared Brown Lemur and Grey Gentle Lemur are globally threatened. All of the lemur species recorded at Tsitongambarika can also be found at the nearby Andohahela National Park, where eight species have been recorded.

The area was assessed by BirdLife International to be an Important Bird Area in 2001 and since 2005, Asity Madagascar have been working with local communities to manage the area. An area of 600 km2 received government protection in 2015. Despite legal protection Birdlife International considers the forest to be in danger.

Among bird species, Tsitongambarika holds most of the bird species of the rainforests of Madagascar, including threatened species such as the Madagascar Red Owl, Brown Mesite, Short-legged Ground-roller, Scaly Ground-roller, Madagascar Crested Ibis and Red-tailed Newtonia.

The avifauna of Tsitongambarika is characterised by a very high endemicity rate: 57 of the 97 species recorded at Tsitongambarika (59%) are found only in Madagascar.

The brown mesite (Mesitornis unicolor) is a ground-dwelling bird of undisturbed primary, evergreen, humid forest and its population is thought to be declining rapidly. It is listed as vulnerable due its habitat along the eastern seaboard of Madagascar being fragmented. Other key species include Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Madagascar Wood-rail, Nuthatch Vanga, Red-fronted Coua, Pollen’s Vanga, Wedge-tailed Jery, Spectacled Tetraka and White-throated Oxylabes. In addition, the globally threatened Meller’s Duck, Madagascar Grebe and Madagascar Pond-heron were recorded on wetlands close to, but outside, Tsitongambarika forest.

Tsitongambarika is the only area in the South-East that supports significant areas of lowland forest. The Protected Area of Tsitongambarika is close to populated coastal villages and to the growing town of Fort Dauphin, 9 km to the south. During the last ten years, large portions of the humid forests near the town have been destroyed. In the southern part of Tsitongambarika, only small fragments remain of a formerly continuous band of humid forest. This extremely rapid deforestation is certainly linked to the recent economic development of Fort Dauphin, which has led to a greatly increased pressure on humid forests, particularly in the low-altitude zone.

The national road 12A that links Tolagnaro and Manantenina goes through the villages located in the eastern part of Tsitongambarika. Although it is not paved, it is accessible almost year round. To travel between Iabokoho and Manantenina, there are four ferry crossings, which can be problematic if a ferry is broken.

Nahampoana Private Reserve – exotic tropical park

The old botanical garden of Reserve de Nahampoana can be found seven kilometres east of Fort Dauphin. This well-maintained garden, formerly named Garden of Acclimatisation, covers an area of 50 hectares. Good hiking trails wind through the vegetation typical of the east and south of Madagascar.

The Reserve is home to many endemic species of the South of the island such as 3 kinds of bamboo trees, the insectivore plant called nepenthes or pitcher plant, fruit trees including lychees, carambolas, tangerines. Amongst the many exotic plants which can be found in the park are the Ravenala Palm, Pachypodium, Madagascar Pitcher Plant, Oil Palm, Canela Cinnamon, Lemon Eucalyptus, young Baobab Trees and the conifer Arokaria, as well as the Triangle Palm Tree which exists in Madagascar only around the area of Fort Dauphin.

Nahampoana Reserve serves as an alternative to the overpriced Berenty, when it comes to a close encounter with Sifaka's, which are the stars of the park. Their small, white, fuzzy head, with a black face and snout balances graciously when they move over the ground in their famous “dance".

Every lemur species native to the south of Madagascar lives in this park. During the early morning hours various groups of lemurs, such as Verreaux's Sifaka, Ring-tailed Lemur or Brown Lemur, usually play in the trees and on the ground near the old colonial style building. Lovers of nature prepare to discover in this oasis of greenery 6 species of lemurs including 2 nocturnes (including the famous microceb, tiny lemur 10 to 13 centimeters high, which can be observed during a nocturnal visit if you stay sleeping), turtles, crocodiles, chameleons, birds and other animals that contribute to the magic of the place.

This forest reserve deserves much greater recognition. Its exotic tropical setting, with mountains for a backdrop, is prettier than Berenty.  You can take a boat trip on the river bordering the reserve, discover a forest of bamboos and explore many other enchanting spots. In the forest there are waterfalls and natural swimming pools that offer quiet and secluded picnic sites. There is a restaurant (reservation required) and 8 lodges equipped (private bathrooms) 100% solar, the rooms are of great comfort. You will also find for sale essential oils produced in the reserve (Camphre, Niaouli), litchis and mangoes. This reserve is not fenced, the people of the neighboring village use it, in the framework of respect for the place and its vocation.

Created around 1900, this garden located at the foot of the Pic Saint-Louis, has also kept an old colonial house as a guest house for those who wish to travel back in time… but who also want to breathe more fresh air and be closer to nature.

Watch more photos about Nahampoana Private Reserve here.

Ikongo massif (Fort Carnot) – a tract of wild country of the Tanala’s land

One of Madagascar mysterious communities can be found in the rainforest hinterland just east of Ambalavao. The Tanala people, also called Antanala, live in South East Madagascar and are separated by the mountainous range from the coast by the Antaimoro and other ethnic groups. They are a large tribe of forest dwellers living inland. Their homeland separates the east coast from the Central Highlands.  The Ranomafana National Park is located in the area of the Tanala. They are divided into two subgroups: the Tanala Menabe in the mountainous north and the Tanala Ikongo dwelling in the more accessible southern part. Tanala Menabe villages are isolated. They are built on mountain tops and are hidden in the dense forest.

The mountain Ikongo is a huge rock with a tabular summit, its northern and southern sides are surrounded by the Sandrananta and the Savondronina rivers, tributaries of the Matitanana river. This mountain, located in the middle of the forest, constitutes the core of the traditional Tanala-Ikongo region.

The Ikongo massif has the shape of a gigantic horseshoe whose concavity is turned towards the East. The length from north to south is about 6 km and the average width of the plateau is one kilometer. The upper plateau (1050m above sea level) is very wet with three brooks and many springs, which explains the 600 to 800 ha of fertile land suitable for various types of crops.

According to oral tradition, they are the descendants of "Vazimba", an indigenous people. Between the thirteenth and seventeenth century, different ethnic groups came to populate the Ikongo massif, fleeing the conflicts to come and take refuge at the foot of the massif, stronghold of Tanala.

In the nineteenth century, the Tanala undermined the attempts of the Merina who were then pushed back quickly. To ensure their tranquility and freedom, a pact was established between the Tanala and the French in 1898 and the massif of Ikongo took the name of Fort Carnot. The kingdom, however, split in three to give the kingdom Antanala of the south, the kingdom Antanala of the north and in the center of both, the kingdom of Ikongo.

The Ikongo take their name from Mount Ikongo, about 8 kilometers from Fort Carnot.  Mount Ikongo was the refuge of all the inhabitants of the southern forest region in time of war. The top was level and could only be reached by one path, narrow and difficult. It was cultivated, providing food during sieges. This mountain was never conquered by the Imerina. The top was divided into two parts, Ananjamanga on the northeast and Tsiajopapango on the south. On the southwest corner of Ananjamanga, called Mitioka, there was a small, rocky hill where the ancient inhabitants sacrificed an ox to their ancestors for protection and victory before going to battle. This hill was shaped like a cattle tick, "kongo", and gave the name Ikongo to the mountain.

Several buttresses accessible only by ramps of 45 to 50° serve as a base for this imposing massif, whose access is defended on all sides by steep rocks, with the exception, however, of the western part where there is a "kind of welding" that links Ikongo to the Ambondrombe massif, the mountain of spirits. To the north, a sort of indentation from which the Ilavaohina stream cascades, is "a second weak point of the position". "Everywhere else the massif is almost unapproachable. The Ikongo Massif, which rightly deserves to be called the Tanala Acropolis, is truly a formidable position. All the more so because, besides being besieged by the Merina, the rock acquires a reputation of inviolability made to increase the faith and the courage of its defenders.

The Tanala are skilled woodsmen, food gatherers, and hunters. They trade beeswax, honey, and other forest products and engage in slash-and-burn agriculture, growing rice as a staple. The central government is encouraging the Tanala to use more modern agricultural methods in the cultivation of rice and coffee. Each of the very hierarchical Tanala villages has a collective house called “tranobe”, which is usually built on the top of a hill facing the West. Elderly villagers and important figures of the village live in the upper parts of the village, while the youngest occupy the lower ones. The Tanala observe patrilineal descent and often live in large compounds consisting of a father and his sons or of a group of brothers.  Their houses are usually built on stilts. Besides slash-and-burn agriculture, they grow rice, corn, yams and coffee. The traditional dance of the Tanala (Dombolo) has become widely recognized and popular. Inhabitants wear always a round-shaped hut.

The Tanala hold deeply to their traditional religious practices, which are based on animism and ancestor worship. They believe that there are spirits all around us in nature and that people must try to please the spirits. Animists usually live with a certain amount of fear that a spirit will be unhappy with them.

If you wish to visit the Ikongo Massif and the Tanala Land, you can take our 7-day trekking tour "Tanala land. Ambalavao-Manakara: Rum Route", or make an uneasy, isolated but intense "Exceptional trekking through the Forest Corridor to the Land of Tanala".

You can also take our 5-day expedition by a 4x4 car "Discovering the natural and cultural treasures of Mount Ikongo".

Watch more photos about Ikongo massif (Fort Carnot) here.

Kalambatritra Special Reserve – It is one of the most impressive forests

Nature adventure aficionados will definitely be enticed by the allure of Kalambatritra's richly blessed lush virgin jungles. In this nature delight, one can expect nothing less than to have one’s breath taken away. Located in the southeast some 50 km east of Betroka, the very important Kalambatritra Special Reserve nevertheless remains poorly known. It is situated to the north of the Andohahela National Park, south-west of the Manombo Special Reserve and to the west of the Midongy du Sud National Park.

The Kalambatritra Massif in south-east Madagascar comprises the most westerly of all remaining rainforest in Madagascar. In order to conserve the endemic Wright’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur wrightae) and other threatened (and in some cases probably undiscovered) lemurs in the massif, in 1959 the Kalambatritra Special Reserve was created.

About half the forests of the Kalambatritra massif, comprising a surface of 285 km², occur in the Kalambatritra Special Reserve, managed by Madagascar National Parks, whilst the remaining forests are unprotected. The fairly extensive expanse of forest ranges in altitude from around 1000 to 1750 m, and is reputed to contain some of the oldest and largest trees of any rainforest on the island. Some of the forest areas on the massif are virtually pristine and are considered to be amongst the most impressive forests to behold in the entire country.

The Reserve includes different types of humid forest, which range from dry deciduous forests to the 1600 m high mountainous rainforests, covering the slopes of the Kalambatritra massif, which constitutes the most important water reserve for the whole region. Many clear and permanent tributaries of the Mangoky and the Ionaivo have their sources in the reserve.

The humid evergreen forest is little disturbed, and has a canopy 15–25 m high with trees reaching 30 m. Characteristic trees include figs Ficus, Dalbergia and tree-ferns Cyathea. The humus layer is 10–25cm thick. Savannas of coarse grass (Aristida, Imperata) divide the forest into blocks, and a strip of bracken Pteridium borders the forest. The border of the protected area includes large areas of savanna. The location of Kalambatritra between the eastern tropical forests, the central highlands and the western grasslands makes its biodiversity very rich, since species from these different areas are found within the Reserve. Among the 699 species of plants so far recorded on the reserve, two families are endemic; the Torricelliaceae, including Melanophylla alnifolia and the Sarcolaenaceae including Leptolaena pauciflora, which, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an endangered species on the IUCN Red List.

The reserve boasts a great diversity of fauna. So far 75 birds species are known from the site (65% endemic to Madagascar and 15% local endemic to the region), such as the Madagascar Red owl, Pitta-like ground-roller and the Meller's Duck. The species, Rufous-headed Ground-roller, Velvet Asity, Madagascar Yellowbrow, Nuthatch Vanga, Forest Rock-thrush, found in the reserve are characteristic of humid forest, despite the site being located at the edge of the Eastern forest area.

The Kalambatritra Special Reserve is the only site currently known for the recently-described Wright’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur wrightae), one of the most distinctive members of the genus. Larger than any other known sportive lemur species, it is also unique in being sexually dimorphic, with the female easily distinguishable due to its contrasting grey head.

Other five lemur species occurring there include Southern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis), Red-fronted lemur (Eulemur rufifrons), Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), Red-collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris), and Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis).

The red-collared brown lemur, Eulemur collaris, is relatively isolated geographically from other Eulemur species in southeastern Madagascar. Like many other lemur species, the red-collared brown lemur is particularly threatened due to habitat loss and human activities.

There are various nocturnal lemurs for which species identifications have not yet been adequately determined (mouse lemurs, dwarf lemurs, woolly lemurs). Of course a good number of reptiles and amphibians live in the reserve too.

The Bara is the dominant ethnic group of this region. They conserve their ritual traditions concerning funerals and ancestors intact since thousands of years, and have built several impressive tombs around the Reserve. Especially rewarding are the ones at a village called Andriambe.

The destruction of forest areas in order to grow rice and to get wood for fire and construction is the main threat of the area. Some rivers have their sources in the Kalambatritra range, so the conservation of these forests as a water reserve is both indispensable for human and wildlife.

The tropical climate secures a warm temperature all year round. During the rainy season from October to April heavy storms are frequent, and it is not possible to access to the Reserve. The best time to come here is from June to September, when it does not rain and it does not get so hot.

There are no established circuits currently inside the Reserve, but NDAO-i-Travel can arrange small hikes through this less known and isolated forests with a local guide to come with us. Camping is permitted, we can bring our own equipment and supplies. In Betroka there are some basic accommodations too.

Access is very difficult. If we are driving from Tana or Tulear, we must leave the RN7 and take the poorer R13 until Betroka and we need a jeep to reach the Reserve. Once here, drive to Ivahona along a ground road (20 km), last 30 km are on a narrow communal path.

Watch more photos about Kalambatritra Special Reserve here.

The Ifotaka Community Forest – Step into the magical world

The Ifotaka Community Forest is a vast area of the most unusual forest on Earth which is home to the traditional Antandroy tribe. The reserve protects 22,000 ha of spiny thicket and gallery forest in the south east of Madagascar. The forest is considered sacred by the Antandroy people, since it hides the ancestral tombs of the Antandory tribe, making it a very interesting and culturally rich place to visit.

Ifotaka is a small village in a remote part of Madagascar that is situated in Androy region, 90 km west of Fort Dauphin, in the heart of the spiny bush. The ride is fascinating – through wetland forest of Anosy and then a transitional zone from the rainy side of the mountains to the dry region of Androy in the west. Finally we reach the spiny forest – an amazing assemblage of octopus trees of the Didiereaceae family and Euphorbias and a whole different fauna. It takes 4 hours in a jeep traveling to get to the place. You will have to cross the large concrete bridge that spans the Mandrare River. Light aircraft transfers from Fort-Dauphin can also be arranged at a very reasonable cost.

The Mandrare River is the largest in the south Madagascar.  It looks like a flowing mass of red water, laden with laterite, which fills its bed about 800 meters wide from December to mid-February. The water is abundant until August and then it becomes scarce until December when we find a bed almost completely dry. At the time of the flood the river rises about 7 meters. In the dry season, on the end of the water, women wash their children or the linen, men dig holes in order to recover the underground fresh water of the river and recover the sand for the construction.

Ifotaka Community Chalets (CCI) is located near this village on the banks of the Mandrare River, in the heart of the spectacular thorny and sacred forest of Antandroy. The Community Chalets Initiative was launched by the Tandroy Conservation Trust in 2003 to help residents conserve better the biodiversity of their area. These bungalows were designed by local leaders and built by local craftsmen. The 8 bungalows, large campsite and a newly constructed interpretive centre are all community owned and locally staffed and managed.  All income generated is either reinvested in the maintenance and management of the bungalows or used to regenerate degraded areas in the community managed forest.

The Antandroy or Antampatrana is a group of local Malgasy people, who live in the southernmost tip of Madagascar. Antandroy means “People of the thorn bush” which is quite a fitting description considering their fascination with cacti! They surround their village and houses with all kinds of thorn plants, just one of the many idiosyncrasies of this once isolated tribe. Witch doctors, totem poles and haunted forests are just some of the elements that make the Antandroy culture so interesting to outsiders. The Antandroy people are joyful and singing, dancing and exquisite music making are all part of any given day in an Antandroy village. You will also have the opportunity to discover imposing stone tombs surmounted by aloalo (carved wooden totem) and trophies (horns of zebus) which give a sacred side to this forest.  A guide can show you the hidden graves in the undergrowth and will also explain the traditions and rituals of their ancestry worship. It is possible to visit the ombiasy (traditional healer), learn how to use the piletse, a zebu-hide sling shot, and take a zebu-cart to the colourful market at Fenaivo.

Ifotaka Forest is one of the best preserved in the country because the locals protect the pristine wildlife areas so closely. Gallery forest on the floodplain of the Mandare River grows in semi-isolated patches on river banks, here it forms vulnerable "islands" of vegetation. There are many species of trees, but the dominant ones are Tamarind (Tamarindus indica: Malagasy kily) and Acacia (Acacia rovumae: Malagasy benono). These two species form a large part of the overarching canopy at Ifotaka.

The area is also home to the spiny forest. This little-known forest reserve features a strange and ethereal habitat found nowhere else on the planet: the spiny thicket. It's so bizarre that biologists can't decide whether it's a forest or a desert, hence its name. 95% of the plants in this almost alien habitat are totally unique.

These areas of gallery forest and spiny forest are home to all the species that are indigenous to this part of Madagascar, particularly Ring-tailed lemurs and Verreaux's Sifakas. Ifotaka Forest shelters many reptiles: iguanas, chameleons, turtles (including the endangered radish turtle) and more than 50 species birds.

If you love birdlife, be sure to ask your personal guide for a forest walk to seek out Madagascar Buzzard, Crested Coua, Pied Crows, Madagascar Coucal, Crested Drongo, Peregrine Falcon, Madagascar Fody. Species including Harrier Hawk, Francis Sparrowhawk   are all readily seen, as well as many other bird species, including Hoopoe, Sickle Billed and White Headed Vangas, Gray-headed Lovebirds, Lafresnayes and Verreauxs Couas, and Madagascar Malachite Kingfisher.

Night walks here are excellent. As the diurnal species turn in for the night, the thicket resounds with the clamour of its nocturnal residents. You will spot two tiny species of Mouse lemur (Grey and Grey-brown) bouncing between tree trunks, highly vocal White-footed sportive lemur (or Lepilemur) and sleepy sifakas. Night time is also the best period to look for chameleons sleeping at the ends of branches out of reach from predators, as well as Scops Owls and, with a little luck, the scarce White-browed Owl.

The Ifotaka Forest is home to magnificent baobabs. In this part of the south, Adansonia za is the largest Baobab species. There is even its own small Avenue of the Baobabs.

Watch more photos about Ifotaka Community Forest here.

Midongy du Sud NP – a tourist destination just for hardcore nature lovers

Midongy du Sud National Park in southeastern Madagascar provides opportunities to view several lemur species, though only the well-seasoned traveler should attempt this journey and then only during the drier months. Species of lemurs that may be found here are an undescribed form of mouse lemur (Microcebus), greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major), southern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis), red-collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris), Peyriéras’ woolly lemur (Avahi peyrierasi), aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), and perhaps Andohahela sportive lemur (Lepilemur fleuretae).

The park is also an Important Bird Area overlapping with the national park. Rare birds like the Madagascar Coucal, Scaly Ground-roller or Stripe-throated Jery, Madagascar Flufftail, Pollen's Vanga. Meller's duck (Anas melleri) is endemic to south eastern Madagascar. This species is listed as an endangered species by the (IUCN) red list.

Midongy du Sud (also called Midongy-Befotaka) National Park is located about 90 km south-west of Vangaindrano in the South East of Madagascar. This area has been protected since 1953 but it reached the status of National Park in 1997. Midongy covers a surface of 1920 km² and it is divided into two main sections: the Soarano and the Befotaka Forest. The landscape is rugged, formed by steep mountains and deep valleys covered by a luxuriant humid rain forest, and marshes and rivers in the lowlands. Indeed this is one of the most humid regions of Madagascar and it rains almost every day. Due to this climatic conditions and its craggy orography, Midongy du Sud shelters the second biggest rain forest of the island. The altitude varies from 700 to 1680 m at the highest point, the Mount Papango.

There are some beautiful natural places outside the National Park, such as the Kotavo cave in Befotaka (40 km south from Midongy Atsimo and the second biggest town around), the thermal source in Telorano or the natural pool in Andranolaly.

These dense rain forests are covered with a wide number of tree species, including palm trees, orchids, precious woods as ebony or palisander and at least 15 threatened species and 50 medicinal plants. They include kooboo-berry (Mystroxylon aethiopicum), which is said to help with injuries, and the sap of Medinilla sp, is used for coughs.

There are some local endemic reptiles - leaf-tailed geckos and warty chameleons.

The endemism rate is notable among mammals, birds and reptiles. Surveys, which have led to the discovery of new species, are currently being carried out.

The climate is extremely humid during all the year, and the temperatures are cool (yearly average is 18°C). Due to the constant rainfalls leeches are pretty common at Midongy du Sud. Nevertheless they are quite small and not dangerous. A suitable raincoat and a waterproof equipment are necessary!

Apart from the unpleasant weather, the difficult access makes Midongy a tourist destination just for adventurous travellers and hardcore nature lovers. The Park is “accessible” by road only from June until late November, and a good jeep is compulsory. Once in Vangaindrano (the final stop of the road RN12, that is in bad state during the last 100 km), travellers must take the terrible road T18 for another 100 km until the town of Midongy Atsimo.

You also may discover this park and the whole South-east coast with our seasonal offer a hard trackless tour (a 4x4 cross-country vehicle or motorcycle) "The venture into the unknown Côte Est of Madagascar" and enjoy the roads less traveled.

Watch more photos about Midongy du Sud National Park here.

Lac Anony. The bushland and a fascinating lunar landscape

Lake Anony is a brackish lagoon backed by rolling dunes on the rugged south coast. It is located near the small town of Amboasary some 85 km west of Fort Dauphin. The area of the lake is 2300 hectares and the average depth is 5 to 6 m but can be up to 12 m during floods. Lake Anony is fed by the Itarantsa river and it is tidal, being linked to the sea by a channel "Vinany" which corresponds to a temporary opening in rainy season only.

This lake is mainly known to spot flamingos that come with season between September and the March and rest near the dunes between the sea and the lake. During the rainy season, Lake Anony holds large numbers of water birds like Thamnornis, Madagascar Heron. Clumps of Euphorbia are the favourite habitat of Littoral Rock-thrush (Monticola imerinus). This is the only site in the region that is known to hold Madagascar Grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii). The bushland is a foraging area for forest birds. The lake contains a high density of Rhizostoma jellyfish.

Anony offers beautiful white sand beaches, accessible for those looking for calm. The site also offers fishing scenes of Tanosy, typical of the region. A dune about 1500 m long and 700 m wide rises on the west side of lake Anony. Despite its small size, this place is a true gem. Overlooking Lac Anony with the mountains to the east and the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean just to the south, this is a location with a truly distinctive feeling. The plants to be found on the dune also enhance the character of this locality. Particularly fine specimens of Aloe vaotsanla rise approximately 4 m into the air, next to Euphorbia stenoclada, twining among the shrubs and Pachypodium lamerei found here in bizarre shapes due to the prevailing windy conditions of this site. Some baobabs Adansonia and Salvadora scrub also occur, and there is a vast industrial plantation of sisal Agave near the lake.

For a full-day excursion, walk along the lake shore to a beautiful picnic spot, scale the 22-meter-high sand dunes for incredible views and go for a swim in the lake.

It is possible to bivouac along the lake and the wind is conducive to the practice of windsurfing or kitesurfing (beginner or advanced). The expanses of dunes along the ocean make up a fascinating lunar landscape – a paradise both for birdwatchers and botanists.

It is a beautiful spot, and from the top of the dunes there are views of blindingly white beaches whipped clean by the wind and pounding surf, the scene of innumerable storms and shipwrecks over the centuries. Yet, protected by the towering dunes, the lake shore is serene, gently lapped by clear, warm water with only the frayed echo of children's laughter to break the silence.

Watch more photos about Lac Anony here.

The Domaine de la Cascade of Manantantely, a pleasant park in a paradisiacal valley

A real haven of peace, the Domaine de la Cascade of Manantantely, meaning a place of honey, is the ideal place to relax. Indeed, it is an area with a green landscape, a waterfall which is finished by a natural swimming pool. The Domaine also allows the practice of outdoor activities as the trekking or the camping.

This pleasant park, about 9km from the Total station on the road to Ambovombe from Fort Dauphin, is an easily overlooked spot. Almost 100 hectares in size, it consists of a nursery set in a paradisiacal valley with several walking trails, including one to a pretty waterfall where you can take a dip. Most people come on a day trip, but there's a large bungalow, with kitchen for rent – we’ll probably have the whole place to yourself.

Bordered by the last low altitude primary forest in the south of Madagascar, for approximately 1700 hectares, the Domaine de la Cascade has been trying for fifteen years to contribute to the development of the region, to protect and enhance the environmental heritage, in partnership with local associations and public authorities.

17 km of paths, roads and forest routes, embellished with two natural pools, the construction of a bridge to open up several villages, the protection of primary forest, endemic plants and rare woods, the Domaine is a player, involved in all aspects of their environment.

About 300 rural residents took part in large-scale works: 8 hectares were recycled for growing rice, exploited by the poorest families of neighboring villages. 17 hectares were cleared for cultivation of 5000 plants, the Domaine de la Cascade becomes the largest producer of the region.

1300 м2 of vanilla, 400 м2 of lychee, and recently, in partnership with GIZ (German International Cooperation Agency) under the Honey Resistance project, 50 hives were created, training and monitoring of surrounding beekeepers for 300 additional hives.

In addition, in the agricultural valley of Ranomafana, located 80 km from Fort Dauphin, the Domaine planted 1000 м2 of Baies Roses (Pink peppercorn) to start the economic development of this region.

Watch more photos about The Domaine de la Cascade of Manantantely here.

Sainte Luce Private Reserve

Sainte Luce Reserve offers the ultimate ecological experience. Littoral forest on sandy soil – one of the most threatened vegetation types in Madagascar – can still be found in the South-East region of Madagascar. Some 30km northeast of Fort Dauphin lies 4,3 square kilometres of precious littoral forest – humid coastal forest, swamp and grassland that thrive directly behind the seashore. It doesn’t sound much, but it’s a highly important area for some of southeastern Madagascar’s rarest endemic flora and fauna.

Madagascar’s evergreen littoral forests grew up on old sand dunes and once stretched in an unbroken band two or more miles thick along the whole of the island’s 1600-km long east coast. Today, most of that vegetation type is gone: there’s no fragment now which is bigger than 2000 hectares. Still, researchers estimate the remaining fragments of evergreen littoral forest contain 13 percent of the island’s plant species on less than 1 percent of its land.

Sainte Luce Reserve forms part of the last remaining intact coastal rainforests. This compact reserve spans only one kilometre in length and 300 metres wide. It is a proud member of the Lemur Conservation Network, an organisation which works to save Madagascar's lemurs from extinction. International volunteers flock here from all over the world to assist with lemur research, tree planting, seed collecting, sea turtle monitoring, and community outreach. Managed on a shoestring by a local NGO coordinated by an Australian resident, the conservation work here benefits the district’s wildlife as well as the local fishers and farmers who live in the three villages of Ambandrika, Ampanasatomboky and Manafiafy, together known as Sainte Luce.

Located on an island-like peninsula, the reserve is bound by the Indian Ocean and white sand beaches to the east and winding freshwater rivers to the west, with lush coastal forests to the north and south. Meandering creeks ribbon their way from north to south, roughly parallel to the coast, as far south as the Baie de Lokaro, creating what is in effect a long, slug-shaped, inshore island of rare habitat. The Lokaro area of Sainte Luce is a scenic mix of unspoilt littoral forests, flowing streams, rolling green hills, winding waterways, natural pools and palm-fringed lakes.

The reserve protects the habitat for five species of lemurs, abundant birds, reptiles, and rare ebony forest. Explore the array of habitats within the reserve – from mangroves and wetlands to littoral forests and open grasslands – and discover the incredible plants and animals that share their home.

The flora in and around the forest is dominated by buttress-rooted pandanus palms, and includes the very rare Sainte Luce palm (Dypsis saintelucei) of which only around 100 mature individuals survive. These palms are critical to the survival of the jewel-like day gecko Phelsuma antanosy, which normally glues its two eggs to them.

The Sainte Luce Private Reserve is a good site for seeing the Red-collared Brown Lemur (Eulemur collaris) in the Pandanus-dominated forest right along the ocean. The reserve is also home to the Sainte Luce Mouse Lemur (Microcebus saintelucei). However, due to the fact that the Sainte Luce Reserve forest is separated from the other Sainte Luce forests by rivers, there is a current belief that the mouse lemur here is an entirely new, as yet unclassified, species.

Sightings of birds – Purple heron, Humblot’s heron, Meller’s duck, Madagascar crested ibis, France’s sparrowhawk, Madagascar nightjar, African palm swift, Madagascar malachite kingfisher, Pygmy kingfisher, Madagascar bulbul, Madagascar magpie-robin, Hook-billed vanga, Common jery, Souimanga sunbird, Madagascar white-eye are possible as well.

Visitors can explore Sainte Luce during day and night walks or with long pirogue rides through the wetlands' channels. The white-faced whistling ducks (Dendrocygna viduata) are one of the commonest birds in the wetlands around the west of the reserve, you can spot them resting on the river-bank.

Sailing through the Sainte Luce mangroves near the camp is like gliding across a mirror. But mangroves aren't just picturesque. They perform many amazing functions, such as providing habitat for thousands of species of fish and other marine life, protecting coastlines from erosion and storing billions of tonnes of carbon beneath their roots!

At Sainte Luce Reserve volunteers collect mangrove seeds and plant them along the river shoreline. A very important part of the conservation work. The volunteers and staff have planted 7000 mangroves around the river in the last year.

Sainte Luce Reserve offers highly rewarding nocturnal walks. It is not uncommon to see well into double figures of lemurs on a typical night. Sometimes you don't even need to leave the campsite to see them! The Fat Tailed Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus medius) can be easily spotted in the forest. The Southern Woolly Lemur (Avahi meridionalis) is one of two endangered lemur species found in Sainte-Luce, but it's at risk from increasingly degraded habitats. Some good news today: Flying fox populations in Sainte Luce are booming! Over 700 individuals are currently being reported by local monitors. The Malagasy civet, or Fanaloka (Fossa fossana) more frequently is seen around the forest. These cryptic predators are normally very wary of humans but because of the exclusion of hunters and particularly a ban on dogs in the reserve has had a positive effect perhaps on numbers and certainly on habituation to humans.

To get to the Sainte Luce reserve is roughly a 3-4 hour trip from Fort Dauphin via car and then pirogue (canoe). The journey just to get to the reserve is pretty much a small adventure in itself and you will see some local villages and lots of interesting scenery. You can even come kayacking from Fort Dauphin in three days. When you finally paddle up to the dock at the reserve you'll have a real appreciation for how isolated the site is.

Its remote location provides a tranquil environment that is perfect for traveller’s holidays in Madagascar. The nearest neighbours are located a canoe ride away in the village of Manafiafy or 18km down the beach in Itapera. The Camp lies between the windy reserve and the pristine stretch of littoral forest that is home to seemingly endless biodiversity.

The local guides, guardians and cook are what really sets Sainte-Luce Reserve apart from the competition. Each and every one of them is so friendly, welcoming and nothing is too much trouble. What is even more incredible is that many of them only arrived at the reserve a year or so ago and already they are very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna and can spot tiny chameleons on the forest floor from some distance away.

Watch more photos about Sainte Luce Private Reserve here.

Cape Andavaka and Ankapaky Cave – an adventure to the end of the earth

The company NDAO-i-Travel offers a unique show like a little first morning of the world. You will be surprised to meet lemurs and other animals in this secret corner of Madagascar. The west coast of Fort Dauphin is good to the exploration of astonishing sandstone cliffs, as wild as the Isalo, where you can walk along in the foam of the rough sea. The cave of Cape Andavaka is about fifty kilometers from Fort Dauphin.

To spot the amazing Ankapaky grotte, excavated in the cliff we have to walk for an hour along the ocean on rocky plateaus at the sea level. The site is impressive: the roaring water rises in geysers from the crevices of the rock, the sea forms in places natural pools, the huge cavities that overlook the forest offers a view of the ocean with intense blue... A unique show like a little first morning of the world.

The eroded stone crumbles gradually, and huge blocks lie at the bottom of this vast open cave, from the top of which we see the trees growing along the steep walls with dangling roots, intertwined in original configurations. In this special microclimate it was possible to develop a rainforest vegetation with lianas and ferns, absolutely unusual in this arid area. In the pleasant coolness of the cave among the rocks some Ring-tailed lemurs live and from where, through an ocean door, we can go up to the cliff. By climbing the cliff, the hike ends in the vegetation adapted to the usual drought of southern Madagascar.

The scenery is guaranteed, you will enjoy visiting and a picnic and eat local seafood on the beach. The lobster of Fort Dauphin is very popular and recognized as one of the best in the world. They live in the rocks at a depth of between 0.5 and 6 meters. Also, crabs and oysters in the area are a real treat.

At your request, it is possible overnight a bivouac on the beach. We will camp at the end of the earth under a beautiful starry sky. If you prefer to have our fresh lobster, oysters, crabs, prawns or fish brought to us where we made our beach fire, we ask the local cock and we would get what us need.

Watch more photos about Cape Andavaka and Ankapaky Cave here.

Pic d’Ivohibe Special Reserve. Adventures into uncharted territory

Pic d´Ivohibe Special Reserve is located south of Andringitra National Park in the southeastern Madagascar. It was created in 1964 and covers an area of 34,5 km². The climate differs depending on the altitude, which varies between 750 m and 2060 on the top of Ivohibe Peak. The vegetation is formed by tropical humid rainforest on the eastern side, mountain dense forest on the highlands and grassy savannas on the western part of the Reserve.

Due to its difficult access and the lack of infrastructure, this pretty isolated Reserve is still very few visited and little known. It can be reached by means of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, though the journey can be challenging. It is a place for real adventures and true nature-fans.

The park offers a habitat to seven different mammals: lemurs, mongooses, tenrecs, as well as 18 species of reptiles and 77 birds species, such as Rand’s warbler or grey-crowned tetraka. Among the lemurs you can spot rufous mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus), greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major), southern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis), ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), red-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur rufifrons), red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer), and possibly aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis).

The rainy season starts on October and lasts until March. Camping is allowed at some points. Our team will accompany you: our professional guide, 2 MNP agents, a local guide, a cook and porters.

Watch more photos about Pic d'Ivohibe Special Reserve here.

Berenty Private Reserve

The Berenty Private Reserve is one of the best known tourist destinations in Madagascar. Established in 1936 as a reserve on a sisal plantation, it opened for tourism in 1980 and is still operated by the de Heaulme family, the original owners. Berenty is located approximately 82 km west of the airport at Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin). The drive from Tolagnaro takes about three hours without stops (owing to the poor condition of the road). However, it is best to schedule a full day for this trip because the scenery and the attractions along the way make this one of the most interesting stretches of road in Madagascar. Over the last 30 years, Berenty has probably been the most visited and most filmed of all sites in Madagascar.

Berenty is a must for first-time visitors, and often the first stop on any inaugural trip to South Madagascar. Although sometimes crowded in the high season, it is still a delightful place and one where the lemur-watcher can immediately add four or five species to a lemur life-list. The reserve is also excellent for birdwatching, and has what must be the most accessible roosting site for the Madagascar flying fox (Pteropus rufus) in the entire country.

Berenty Private Reserve has large populations of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and Verrreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), which are very evident and usually in or near the parking lot, greeting visitors upon arrival. There is also an introduced population of hybrid red-fronted brown lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons)×red-collared brown lemurs (Eulemur collaris), the offspring of small groups of these two species that were introduced in the 1970s and 1980s. The introduced lemurs surely compete with the native species, probably to the detriment at least of the ring-tails, but they are there to stay. Research on the ring-tails at Berenty has been going on for nearly 50 years, led by Dr. Alison Jolly and her colleagues and involving numerous other researchers. A number of publications by Dr. Jolly are readily available. The most recent of these is a fascinating book entitled Lords and Lemurs. It focuses both on the history of Berenty and on the behavior and ecology of the lemurs, and is highly recommended.

Three nocturnal species are also present. The white-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus) is common and readily seen, even in the daytime in its sleeping sites. Research has also indicated that there are two mouse lemurs at Berenty, the gray (Microcebus murinus) in the gallery forests and the gray-brown (Microcebus griseorufus) in the adjacent spiny forest patches. Both are commonly seen in the warmer months.

A further mammalian highlight of Berenty is visiting the Madagascar Flying Fox roost, were about 300 of these impressive animals sporting 1,25-meter wingspans spend their day squabbling and presumably sleeping.

The Berenty Reserve is situated along the Mandrare River and covers approximately 250 ha of gallery forest dominated by large tamarind trees (Tamarindus indica) and adjoining spiny forest, dominated by Alluaudia procera and Alluaudia ascendens. These patches of natural habitat are in the middle of the sisal plantation that was established in 1930.

Although most visitors go only to the gallery forest and to a small, adjacent patch of spiny forest in the immediate vicinity of the bungalows, we also recommend excursions to several other forest patches in the area. These include the gallery forest of Bealokoa and the magnificent spiny forest patch at Anjapolo, located just 15 km from the headquarters of the reserve and still part of Berenty. The forest at Anjapolo is rich in Didierea trolli, an impressive species of Didiereaceae not found in the more frequented spiny forest patches in the main part of Berenty.

Exploring Berenty Reserve for a full day, we hope to find Madagascan Sandgrouse, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Madagascan Buttonquail, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Madagascan Sparrowhawk, Giant, Crested, Running, and Red-capped Couas, Chabert, Hook-billed, and Sickle-billed Vangas, Grey Emutail, Grey-headed Lovebird, Subdesert Brush Warbler, and Humblot’s Heron, and possibly also Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk, which is, however, difficult to find. On night outings we will hunt for Rainforest Scops Owl, White-browed Hawk-Owl, and Torotoroka Scops Owl.

Berenty is also a good staging point for excursions to other parts of the southern extreme of the country, notably Cap Sainte Marie and Faux Cap, Lavanono which are well worth a visit.

For those wishing to fly in by charter, there is also a small airstrip on the grounds of the plantation. If you can afford this option, we recommend flying first to Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) and doing the above route in one direction, then flying out from Berenty once your visit is over to avoid retracing your steps.

Bungalows are available for overnight stays, and there is also a good restaurant on the premises. Berenty is accessible all year round, but September and October are the favored months for observing baby lemurs, while December through March is the best time to see native reptiles. Temperatures in the austral summer can be quite hot and nights in the austral winter can be quite cool, so dress accordingly. You will also need to be sure to book well in advance since this is one of most heavily visited sites in the country, especially in the peak season.

Watch more photos about Berenty Private Reserve here.

Manakara town – a place for discerning travelers

Manakara is one of a group of old seaside towns along the south-east coast of Madagascar, which also includes Mananjary, Vohipeno, Farafangana, Vangaindrano. Each has its own unique character, features, and atmosphere and together they make up some of Madagascar's best coast travel experiences. The littoral cities are not overwhelmed with tourists as some of the coastal areas can be. You can discover all these places with NDAO-i-Travel.

Manakara was once a flourishing colonial town with vast coffee plantations but is now pretty much isolated from the rest of the country due to infrequent flights and road access only during the dry season. It is also a highly underrated destination that should not be overlooked. This pleasant seaside town is nevertheless slowly gaining in popularity among discerning travelers.  While Manakara is geographically on the east coast, virtually all travellers visit on a round-trip from Fianarantsoa, especially now the super railway from Fianarantsoa to the Coast has been rehabilitated, making Manakara an important part of many a highlands itinerary. This "little train of the cliffs" considered the steepest train in the world, it rushes into the primeval forest, advances on steep rocky slopes, descends along precipices, at a speed of 35 km. It is a long trip but guaranteed sensations.

During your stay in Manakara, do not miss the opportunity to go on a trip along the Pangalanes Canal. For those not planning on visiting the Canal des Pangalanes elsewhere, this is your chance. It can make a welcome beach break from the highlands, particularly after trekking in the parks. The Canal des Pangalanes is an uninterrupted ballet of rowing canoes loaded with goods or carrying passengers. A very dense lake life in a friendly atmosphere and on the shores of small fishing villages built in wood. Do not hesitate to visit these villages to discover the daily life of the villagers turning mainly on the fishing but also the braiding of mats and the construction of canoes and new huts. On board a traditional dugout canoe, discover a luxuriant and wild vegetation dotted here and there with fruit trees and in the air exotic perfumes mixing coffee, lemon grass, mango, vanilla...

Located at the mouth of the river Manakara, the town is innately interesting, as it is divided into two parts by the canal. The warm inland side, known as Tanambao, has a dynamic Caribbean vibe, with sandy streets, tin-roofed shacks and a buoyant daily market. (In the market, do not miss some local products such as pepper or litchis!) While on the other side of the bridge lies the breezy seaside district of Manakara-Be, the old part and its colonial style houses. The modern part is rather beautiful, with its parallel boulevards, lawns planted with palm trees. There is a building of sub-prefecture, communal bungalows, banks, post office, corporate agencies and a beautiful modern pool. The eastern part of the town, situated between the river and the Indian Ocean, has no shortage of charm either. Villas, surrounded by beautiful gardens and coconut trees hanging over the beachfront, give this town a coastal ambiance. The bridge linking both sides partially collapsed in 2012 and a temporary bridge was erected in the old port instead.

The port, constructed in the Manakara River estuary, is the perfect place for strolling and watching cargos loaded with goods on their way to Toamasina from Fort Dauphin.

Manakara is a peaceful town with wide, unpaved streets, so you can easily feel like you're at the end of the world...  Manakara is certainly one of the cleanest towns of Madagascar where the dominant means of transport is the rickshaw as well as in other coastal towns of the South East.

There are beautiful beaches lined with coconut trees, but it is impossible to swim because of strong currents. For a swim, take a tour of the «Trou du commissaire», an enclave protected by a coral reef. The coast is wild and a pirogue ride along the Pangalanes Canal will unveil the charming fishing villages that border it. The road to reach Vanille beach (Trou du commissaire) is 8 km from town, it is the only place where you can swim safely at the sea. Manakara is the ideal place to relax and do nothing, after a long and tiring journey by train. Bike rides along the ocean are magical.

Manakara is the capital of the Antemoro people, who are mainly of Islamic origin, what explains the number of mosques in such a small port town. Anakara people have kept "Sorabe", sacred texts, in Arabic words. Those texts remind of Antemoro history, astrology and some Coran verses (Malagasy was first written in Arabic alphabet before English missionaries introduced the Latin alphabet). In Manakara, visit the Antemoro paper factory. This traditional Malagasy paper is used to make beautiful parchments, letters, postcards, etc. You will also find some at the town market. In the town center, you can also go to the restaurant or the nightclub. From Manakara, you can also access the natural swimming pool by ferry. There is also a day trip to Farafangana and a visit to Rianambo Private Park, as well as the Manombo Special Reserve. About 40 km north of Manakara is Vohipeno, cultural capital of Antemoro. You will also see the tomb of the Antemoro kings.

Another interesting place to visit is a vanille plantation recently opened for tourism. The plantation is situated at 18 km from Manakara direct on the route to Vohipeno (30 min. by car). You'll find Domaine Aavyland, a 31-hectare organic plantation and distillery producing medicinal and fragrant essential oils. Apart from vanille, visitors can also get to know other aromatic plants such as ylang-ylang, niaouly, patchouly, ravintsara, clove and cinnamon. Manager Jean offers fascinating two-hour guided tours of the plantation and distillery, explaining the virtues and production process of every essential oil. Visitors get the chance to scrunch leaves as they go, and to try the essential oils at the end of the visit. Small bottles of essential oils are available for sale, as is the plantation's honey. In the distillery, you can observe the fecundation of vanille flowers (from September to December).

Manakara perfectly rhymes with the Ranomafana National Park. To experience the rainforest's gem through a veritable garden of exoticism Mananjary, you can take a fascinating and very useful trip, "Cruise on the Pangalanes Canal Manakara - Ranomafana NP via Mananjary". Well ... or vice versa, "Cruise on the Pangalanes Canal Ranomafana NP – Manakara and railway Côte Est - Fianar, the "little train of the cliffs". Cruise will get you from Ranomafana to Manakara to discover the Manombo Special Reserve and experience the super railway Côte Est - Fianar. But you can do it just in quicker, but less interesting way to drive a 4x4 car on a dirt road.

A trip to Manakara can also be well connected with the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. You can get access to all the sights that the East of Madagascar offers or return to the capital Antananarivo by taking "Cruise on the Pangalanes Canal Manakara-Andasibe-Mantadia NP via Mananjary, Nosy Varika and Mahanoro".

Watch more photos about Manakara here.

Côte-du-Sud-Est – Land of contrast

Land of contrasts, the South-East of Madagascar, boasts an indented coastline of exceptional beauty, matches perfectly with the hinterland where the word discovery has its full meaning. It is easily understandable that for centuries this coast has attracted visitors. The southeastern coast of Madagascar is extremely rich and varied. From beautiful deserted beaches to rainforests, it's a colorful journey waiting for you. Discover a warm and welcoming people and an ancestral culture for total immersion in the region. The entire south-east coast is punctuated by small fishing towns where you can stop and visit the surroundings.

Mananjary, Vohipeno, Farafangana, Vangaindrano are old seaside towns along the south-east coast of Madagascar. Each has its own unique character, features, and atmosphere and together they make up some of Madagascar's best coast travel experiences. The littoral towns are not overwhelmed with tourists as some of the coastal areas can be. You can discover all these places with NDAO -i-Travel.

Mananjary is a quiet and relaxing town at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Located away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, Mananjary is the perfect place to go for an innovative trip. On the edge of the Canal of Pangalanes, this small town in the southeast of Madagascar will answer all your desires. A veritable garden of exoticism, Mananjary will delight nature lovers. Mananjary is home to Lake Mahela directly overlooking the sea. Today colonial architecture exists side by side with local homes. Mananjary is also known for its customs, including the ceremony of circumcision celebrated every 7 years to mark the “Sambatra”: transition from young boys to adulthood. Mananjary can be the beginning of your adventure in the southeast or east coasts of Madagascar. You can indeed get onboard of a boat and sail down the Canal des Pangalanes. Our cruise from Mananjary to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (available the same way and vice versa) allows you to continue your Madagascar holidays with us, enjoying the places that the East of Madagascar offers, or to return to our capital - Antananarivo.

For those who do not have enough time, we offer a beautiful excursion from Mananjary to the small village of Ambohitsara directly by boat through the astonishing and luxuriant vegetation of the Pangalanes canal to find a stunning sculpture called "Vatolambo". At Ambohitsara you will find a stunning sculpture called "Vatolambo" (the stone boar), cut in a white stone by Indians from Mangalore in the early twelfth century. You will be surprised of the statue of the “white elephant”, its origin isn't clear, the archeologists have different opinions about it. Others defend that statue dates back to the time of Arab and Persian immigrations around the year 900. Some say that the ancestors brought it from Mekka. A German researcher says that the statue is not an elephant but a special kind of pig, and that it has been made locally from a stone found nearby, by Chinese adventurers who came there before Jesus Christ was born. The statue is enclosed in a wooden gate which is locked. The village head requires an entrance fee for the open and tell his story. Ambohitsara is located between Pangalanes canal and the sea. Walk through the typical village and see a part of the genuine Madagascar, far away from big cities and "modern life". The round journey takes about “just” 8 hours by motor canoe or 15 hours by pirogue.

Nosy Varika is, in fact, not a real island, it's a small village and is a starting point of sports expeditions to the falls of Sakaleona, the highest ones in Madagascar. Sakaleona Falls are most spectacular falls of Madagascar (with a height of 200 m). They do deserve a real expedition of a few days. From Nosy Varika, we should go to the village of Ampasinambo in all-terrain vehicle 60 km. From here there is 30 km walk to the falls (a local guide and porters must be recruited in Ampasinambo). Bivouac near the falls. Also in Nosy Varika there is a small weaving fabric "Betsabetsa".

Vohipeno. In the ancient capital of the Antemoro, situated some 30 km south of Manakara, the Islamic influence is still perceptible in the cloths and attires, turbans, fez and the mixed features of the inhabitants` faces.  Vohipeno is a cultural capital of the antemoro land, where the arabico-malagasy manuscripts called Sorabe are kept, and there is a key centre of divinatory science. It is worth to visit the "tranobe" (the ceremonial house), where visitors can meet their king. It is important to take off your shoes when going it because it is a holy place. In the market, it won’t be a failure to scrutinize the stalls of herbalists. Here, the traditional circumcision ceremonies are particularly impressive. The road from Manakara is in good condition. It is possible to stay in a rudimentary “gasy”-hotely type place. At 6 km east of Vohipeno there are magnificent Royal Antemoro Tombs.

The village of Ivato (6 km east of Vohipeno) houses the tombs of the Antemoro kings and princes. You can go in after obtaining the authorisation the Fokontany president (Fokontany – local parliament). Do not forget to bring –as always- a bottle of rum for the ancestors, as well as a monetary contribution (locals will instruct us on this). A descendant of the Antemoro king will accompany us during your visit and will teach you about the history of this place, as well as of the many taboos. The most significant tomb is that of King Ramarahola, the first Antemoro king. It is said that refused to let his grave been dug when he was about to die and started to pray. The earth opened below his feet swallowing his entire body and closed immediately. Each year, around December, the sacrifice of a zebu marks the peak of a big celebration held in his honour. A statue marks each entry of each tomb (which is surrounded by wooden posts). In the eastern site you will see a large ritual stone covered by a "lambamena" (royal red cloth) where offerings for the ancestors are placed. There are very few visitors that come here, so the visit is pretty informal.

Farafangana is a former colonial town, whose charm has not tarnished over time. Farafangana makes you dive into a picturesque setting where the many colorful markets will offer you all the region’s flagship products (coffee, cloves, pepper, rice, fruits). You will enjoy a peaceful, non-tourist and culturally rich town because three main ethnic groups live there: the Antefasy, the Zafizoro and the Rabakara. Fara fiangaina means literally "the end of the journey", and this apparent isolation of the place might explain the excitement of the locals when a “vazaha” shows up here. You’ll be able to go on excursion to explore the Manombo Special Reserve where numerous endemic lemurs live (the white-collared brown lemur and the black-and-white ruffed lemur). But you will also see a multitude of birds, reptiles, and batrachians which live together in a rich endemic vegetation. Farafangana is a major starting point to Midongy du Sud National Park - a tourist destination just for adventurous travellers and hardcore nature lovers. Farafangana, a cradle of traditions with a natural and wild decor, is still unknown but attractive. The surrounding landscapes and the city's scenery have it all. The destination is really ideal for a unique journey. Change of scenery guaranteed!

Vangaindrano, an Antesaka town, at the southern edge of the 400 km of coastline of the South East. “Vangaindrano” means “where you buy water”, and the town is renowned for its rich natural resources. Indeed, the region is naturally very fertile, that’s why Malagasy people has been exploiting resources in cash crops for years: rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, tropical fruits, and also prestigious products such as vanilla, cloves, spices and coffee. Vangaindrano is a starting point for the Lake Masianaka which is sacred for the Antesaka. It is also a starting point to the National Park of Midongy du Sud. And if you feel like it, go on excursion to the National Park to meet the many reptiles, birds and lemurs that live there. You can go for a walk on Ampatsinakoho, a beautiful beach protected by the reefs and rich in seafood. You can also go at the Mananara river source which rushes with a crash into a series of natural vats. 75 km away from Farafangana, Vangaindrano is the terminus of the RN12. For those with an adventurous spirit, going back to Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) by bicycle or moto (or all-terrain vehicle) across a wonderful region is an adventure in itself. It will be an arduous journey to Fort Dauphin - but like anything that takes time, it will be well worth the effort.

You also may discover the whole Côte-du-Sud-Est from Fort Dauphin to Toamasina with our seasonal offer a hard-trackless dirt tour (a 4x4 cross-country vehicle or motorcycle) "The venture into the unknown Côte Est of Madagascar" and enjoy the roads less traveled.

Watch more photos about Côte-du-Sud-Est here.

Mananjary – a veritable garden of exoticism

Mananjary, a town in the southeast of Madagascar, is located 160 km north from Manakara and 130 km from Ranomafana National Park. Located away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, Mananjary is the perfect place to go for an innovative trip. On the edge of the Canal of Pangalanes, this small town in the southeast of Madagascar will answer all your desires. A veritable garden of exoticism, Mananjary will delight nature lovers. Mananjary is home to Lake Mahela directly overlooking the sea.

To satisfy your escape desires, lose yourself in the plantations of coffee trees and clove trees, and then learn about the region’s biodiversity! Enjoy a refreshing treatment at the beach of Sidi Eden! During your visit, you will always be welcomed by the local people with a smile which you will find nowhere else. These people with their exemplary kindness are always ready to serve you. A stop by the river port and the marketplace will help you to better imbibe the lifestyle of the Antambahoaka people.

The rest of your journey will be an excursion by dugout canoe in the Canal of Pangalanes, leading you to some fishermen villages.

We offer you a beautiful excursion to the small village of Ambohitsara directly by boat through the astonishing and luxuriant vegetation of the Pangalanes canal to find a stunning sculpture called "Vatolambo". At Ambohitsara you will find a stunning sculpture called "Vatolambo" (the stone boar), cut in a white stone by Indians from Mangalore in the early twelfth century. You will be surprised of the statue of the “white elephant”, its origin isn't clear, the archeologists have different opinions about it. Others defend that statue dates back to the time of Arab and Persian immigrations around the year 900. Some say that the ancestors brought it from Mekka. A German researcher says that the statue is not an elephant but a special kind of pig, and that it has been made locally from a stone found nearby, by Chinese adventurers who came there before Jesus Christ was born. The statue is enclosed in a wooden gate which is locked. The village head requires an entrance fee for the open and tell his story. Ambohitsara is located between Pangalanes canal and the sea. Walk through the typical village and see a part of the genuine Madagascar, far away from big cities and "modern life". The round journey takes about “just” 8 hours by motor canoe or 15 hours by pirogue.

Mananjary can be the beginning of your adventure in the southeast or east coasts of Madagascar. You can indeed get onboard of a boat and sail down the Canal des Pangalanes. Our tour "Cruise on the Pangalanes Canal "Ranomafana NP - Andasibe-Mantadia NP via Mahanoro" can lead you to the discovery of all the places that the East of Madagascar offers, or to return to the capital, Antananarivo.

But the most interesting thing is that our calm and beautiful journey "Cruise on the Pangalanes Canal "Ranomafana NP - Manakara and railway Côte Est - Fianar",  will open the way to Manombo Special Reserve and give you the opportunity to experience the super railroad Côte Est - Fianar, with the arrival in the cozy southern city of Fianarantsoa, for the next destination of your Madagascar holidays with us. You will travel among the rich and unique vegetation.

For your accommodation in Mananjary, we suggest your rooms at Hotel Jardin de Mer or Hotel Vahiny Lodge. These hotels offer services which will meet your expectations. Mananjary offers a tropical climate. During the month of February, the precipitation rate is very high and the temperature can vary from 27°C to 30°C in daytime and comes down to 23°C at night. It is preferable to plan your trip during the dry season, in other words between June and November. Mananjary has good restaurants where you can order typical dishes.

Watch more photos about Mananjary here.

Look at these tours through South East

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Experience the wildlife that Madagascar is famous for! Visit two of South East’s iconic treasures, the Lemur Katta and the Turtles. Spend the whole day at Cap Sainte Marie Reserve, witnessing turtles laying eggs at night and the experience of releasing baby turtles back into the wild. Those looking for lemurs shouldn't miss Berenty Reserve on a trip to Madagascar, one of the most famous reserves on the island. For the adventurous wanting to see the amazing "dancing" sifakas, be prepared to a trekking through a vast portion of the world's most unusual forest in the Andohahela National Park.

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